We were entrusted to supply Carifesta, the Caribbean Festival of Arts, with a range of rigging, track and draping products to provide a memorable legacy long after the events’ creative expression of culture ended, August 2017.
Our project manager Tom Lambert visited Barbados in March 2017 to conduct site visits to assess the suitability and measure up five venues including four schools and one music venue to host the event. A lack of large venues across the island the Carifesta means events are often held in the largest school spaces available. Tom, who project managed predominantly from the UK, was supported by installation technician James Maher, assistant fabrications manager Sandra Flaxman and three freelancers, who went out to Barbados to begin the installation in July.
Tom explains: “Barbados has its own home grown suppliers for nearly all of the production elements required for the Carifesta, such as staging, lighting and carpentry. However, the organisers lacked access to a company in the Caribbean with the same high level of specialist track and draping knowledge as Blackout. As such, we were invited to work on the project and we’re proud to be the only UK supplier involved in the event.”
We were working for the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, and reporting to Dorcie Boyce. Mr Boyce explained the organisers wanted to not just install new track and drapes into various venues for the festival, but also leave them installed as a legacy after the festival had finished. The same had been done after Barbados’ last time hosting Carifesta in 1981. This meant that before the installation of the new equipment could begin, we first had to remove the old system which had been previously installed into the venues 36 years ago.
The event came with its own specific set of challenges. For example, various issues led to the 20ft container holding four tonnes of our equipment being delayed in customs for two weeks. Once the container had cleared customs, we had only one week to get as much kit installed as possible. As a result, this meant that four of the venues went untouched on the first visit. However, the same Blackout team returned to Barbados for a further 10 days to complete the track and drape installation in the remaining venues.
Carifesta was first held in 1972 and is hosted by a different Caribbean community country every 2-4 years. The festival was last held in Barbados in 1981, 36 years ago, and this year marks the second time that the country has played host to the festival.